Neighborhood design and perceptions: relationship with active commuting

Walking to and from school contributes to total physical activity levels. This study investigated whether perceived and actual neighborhood features were associated with walking to or from school among adolescent girls.

  • A sample of 890 geographically diverse eighth-grade girls completed a self-administered survey on their neighborhood features and walking behavior. GIS data were used to assess objective neighborhood features.
  • The study found that:
    • 56 percent of the girls walked to or from school for at least 1 day in a week.
    • White (42%) girls walked more frequently than Hispanic (25%) and African American (21%) girls.
    • Girls were nearly twice as likely to walk to or from school if they perceived their neighborhoods as safe and perceived that they had places they liked to walk.
    • Girls who lived closer to school, had more active destinations in their neighborhood, and had smaller-sized blocks were more likely to walk to or from school than those who did not.
  • Safety, land use, and school location issues need to be considered together when designing interventions to increase walking to and from school.

Voorhees, CC, Ashwood, S, Evenson, KR, Sirard, JR, Rung, AL, Dowda, M, Mckenzie, TL. “Neighborhood design and perceptions: relationship with active commuting.” Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise. 42.7 (2010): 1253-1260.

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